Friday, January 6, 2012

Warren Ellis and Gianluca Pagliarani's "Aetheric Mechanics" (You're Fired)

I like Warren Ellis a lot.  He's done heaps of incredible work.  Aetheric Mechanics isn't on that heap.  It wasn't a bad effort.  It just 'was.'  Call it 'boilerplate steampunk' with a dash of 'Shyamalan surprise' at the end.*  Not much more to see here.

A few moments shine through as inspired, but just a few.  To be fair, the 'Shyamalan Surprise' approach works for a reason, and while the ultimate effect is a bit of a shaggy dog/holodeck episode wrap up, it at least introduces a new element to the otherwise 2D offing.

The most impressive facet is Pagliarani's penciling.  While the full colour treatment might have taken this in a different direction, Pagliarani's careful use of detail, depth and dimension make some pages an absolute a pleasure to look at and explore [see image below].

A little follow up after reading revealed to this amateur that it's published under a vanity press, of sorts.  This fits my reaction to the work, I think.  Ultimately, it feels like something not fully baked, or better left in Ellis' dustbin.  He's done steampunk much better elsewhere, remixed/re-imagined creative commons characters better elsewhere, and dropped crazy plot turns better elsewhere.  The filter of another stakeholder might have cut or rescued this.

This short work didn't bring anything new or compelling to the table, at least as far as Ellis' bibliography is concerned.  More unfortunate, 'Aetheric Mechanics' stinks of 'formula.' This reek taints several of his other fine but similar works, like 'Ministry of Space' and 'Ignition City', by exposing the few but invariable variables he plugs in to crank out another trope-thumping effort.  Go read Planetary instead.
Nice penciling by Pagliarani.

*C'mon, that's good stuff.  'Boilerplate Steampunk?'  'Shyamalan Surprise?'  C'mon...

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